Tailgating for Music Lovers at Pops in the Park
By: Susan Blood, August 27, 2012
SUSAN BLOOD - Music lovers of all ages and stripes turned out for the annual Pops in the Park concert by the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra on August 25, toting coolers and beach blankets or lawn furniture and stemware.
The show is not all under the tent at Pops in the Park.
For 23 years, Cape Cod Symphony has played a pops concert at Eldridge Park in Orleans. It's a chance for Lower Cape residents to hear the symphony without driving to Hyannis. For the seasoned professionals in attendance, it's also a chance to break out the picnic baskets, table cloths, centerpieces, candles and ice buckets.
At 5 PM last Saturday, the gates opened and concert-goers began setting up the spaces they had marked out in the baseball field earlier in the day. The people next to us served their dinner in courses, with china serving bowls, themed linens and arrangements of hydrangeas.
They weren't alone. A large part of the draw to Pops in the Park is the huge pre-show picnic. It's like tailgating for music-lovers.
If you don't have a set of traveling stemware, don't be intimidated. You're just as likely to find stacks of pizza boxes in the middle of picnic blankets. Coolers outnumber ice buckets by about 50 to one.
Pops in the Park is suited to both. This year's program included the themes to Dragnet, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Honeymooners and The Lone Ranger, along with some show tunes, a suite of Star Wars themes and the finale of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, with real muskets.
Cape Cod Symphony's Artistic Director and Conductor, Jung-Ho Pak, invites different guest artists to perform at Pops each summer. This year they had vocalist Liz Saunders, the Chatham Chorale and violinist Ilana Zaks – who is in 6th grade and will make you feel like you should have practiced more back then.
He also invited Tripping Lily to play several tunes from their new CD. How many local bands catch the eye of a symphony orchestra? And how many orchestras arrange accompaniment for a local band's songs?
Pops in the Park is organized by the Orleans Chamber of Commerce. Not only is it great entertainment, but it funds a scholarship for Nauset Regional High School graduates. Over $100,000 in scholarship funds have been raised since Pops in the Park began.
There's also a bake sale at the event, proceeds from which benefit the Nauset music programs. It's not every day you can write off your seven layer bar guilt that easily.
It turns out being cultured is delicious, and ridiculously fun.